In what turned out to be a defensive battle, the Falcons were able to edge the New York Jets 10-7, as Matt Ryan connected with Tony Gonzalez on a late score after a game-winning drive. The Falcons now keep their hopes of finishing the season with a winning record alive as their record goes to 7-7 on the season with two games remaining.
Ryan had a slow day, but finished the game completing 16 of 34 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown. Jason Snelling led the team on the ground with 59 yards on 16 carries. Jerious Norwood added 9 carries for 22 yards. Michael Turner returned and opened the game with a 7-yard carry, but was not seen from that point on. Roddy White led receivers with 4 catches for 33 yards. Gonzalez had 3 catches for 32 yards, including a 6-yard pass from Ryan with 1:38 left in the game. Ryan led the Falcons on a fourth quarter that began with 4:27 left and on their own 27-yard line. The stifling Jets defense prevented the Falcons from moving the ball via big chunks, as the drive started with Ryan connecting on four passes to his running backs. Jason Snelling followed up with a 20-yard dash which got the ball in the Jets redzone to their 7-yard line. Three plays later on fourth down, Ryan hit Gonzalez for the game-winner. Along with his 20-yard run, Snelling caught two passes for 4 yards on that drive. The Falcons offense had difficulty moving the ball throughout the game, as the Jets feature the league’s top-ranked defense, and showed it today. They were stifled on the goalline in the first quarter, unable to score from the 1-yard line on four straight plays, and settling for a Matt Bryant field goal.
Defensively, the Falcons had a strong performance as they forced three Mark Sanchez interceptions. They did give up 226 passing yards, most of which came on a 65-yard strike which as the Jets only score of the game. Mike Peterson led defenders with 13 tackles. John Abraham (1 tackle, 1 sack), Kroy Biermann (7 tackles), Erik Coleman (9 tackles), Thomas DeCoud (2 tackles, 1 interception), Brent Grimes (5 tackles, 2 interceptions), Chevis Jackson (4 tackles), Thomas Johnson (2 tackles, 1 sack), Curtis Lofton (8 tackles), and Chris Owens (7 tackles) had noteworthy performances. Grimes second interception sealed the Falcons win, as he picked off Sanchez with a minute left in the fourth quarter as the Jets attempted to drive.
Special teams also had a noteworthy impact on the game as well. Matt Bryant hit a 24-yarder, but missed a 48-yarder. Michael Koenen had 8 punts for an average of 39.9 yards. Eric Weems returned 2 kickoffs for an average of 13 yards and 1 punt for 8 yards. Chauncey Davis blocked a 37-yard field goal that was the catalyst which led to the team’s game-winning drive.
Next week the Falcons host the Buffalo Bills. They are out of the playoff picture, but are striving to break the franchise’s 43-year streak of not having consecutive winning seasons. The Falcons last played the Bills in 2005, winning 24-21. The Falcons have won their last two matchups against the Bills and are 3-1 all-time when facing them at home.